Community college is option worth exploring

Friday, November 28, 2014

Students who will be graduating from high school this year or the next - or even the year after that - should give serious consideration to community colleges.

These are the workhorse institutions of economic development, responding rapidly to provide training in whatever skills are needed for current or potential employers.

Not only do the community colleges provide a variety of vocational programs, they can provide a cost effective way to earn the first two years or credits toward a four-year degree, continuing education credits for professionals or skilled workers, credits toward college for high school students or college credits on a part-time basis for people with full-time jobs.

For students wanting to start their college studies at a community college, consultation with counselors is a good idea. The future college student needs to be aware of what will transfer and what will not.

A community college might not be the best option for students in some disciplines or planning on attending a specific college to complete a bachelor's degree.

Generally, liberal arts program have the most flexibility in how the core course requirements are satisfied, but even in a liberal arts discipline, a specific college may have specific requirements that they expect to be taken care of through the core course study, such as foreign language, U.S. Government, Speech or English Composition.

A specific discipline, even in Liberal Arts, might have specific expectations, such as having analytic geometry combined with calculus prior to taking advance math courses, Sometimes those courses are taught separately and a student might satisfy the math core requirement without taking the courses needed to prepare for upper level study in a particular discipline.

There might be unexpected consequence of transferring to a bachelors degree program from a different institution, such as the fact that graduation exercises usually take place prior to the student officially completing the final semester of study. The student will generally be allowed to participate in graduating ceremonies without either the 120 total college credits needed or the 60 credits at that particular college but won't be allowed to wear honor cords unless the GPA was earned through at least 60 credits at the degree-providing institution prior to the date of graduation.

This may or may not be important to the student, but such matters should not come as a surprise at graduation time.